Sherlock Holmes is probably best described as "Sherlock motherfucking Holmes," a man capable of making incredible deductions from the smallest of details with the power of logic alone. Also, he's an expert with all sorts of weapons; from guns and swords, to singlestick cane fighting, to beating your ass with a riding crop.
If for some reason none of those things are around, Holmes is a formidable boxer and a proficient student of Bartitsu, a martial art which he used to simultaneously kill his arch nemesis Moriarty and save himself from death.
Hold on: incredible powers of deduction, badass fighting abilities, general unkillability--where have we heard this before?
Arthur Conan Doyle seems to have spent every waking moment either writing or being awesome. As a 20-year-old kid, Doyle joined a whaling expedition to the Arctic, presumably hanging off the bow and waving his dick at all the whales. After finishing medical school, Doyle mucked around on boats being a ship doctor for a couple years before settling down to start his own practice, take both a wife and a mistress, and churn out some books.
When the Boer War broke out he promptly enlisted as a medical officer and spent months in Africa patching up bullet holes and battling hundreds of cases of typhoid fever. For his service in the war, he was made a knight and then spent his time "playing golf, driving fast cars, floating in the sky in hot air balloons, flying in early archaic and rather frightening airplanes, and body-building."
The man was pure mustache.
Right before WWI broke out, Doyle wrote essays that talked about the importance of submarine warfare and aerial combat, conceived the Chunnel, and detailed such preposterous and fanciful inventions as "inflatable life jackets," "inflatable rafts" and "body armor," proving that in addition to all of his rugged manliness he could also see the goddamn future.
That's right; here's the one case on our list where the writer is so much more famous than any of his characters that we had to explain who he was.
Robert Jordan is a guerrilla fighter behind enemy lines during the Spanish Civil War tasked with blowing up a vitally important enemy bridge, which sounds a lot like the opening sequence of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. Before he gets around to the bridge, he seduces a beautiful young woman named Maria, presumably in a bid to fill the monthly quota imposed on all badass heroes.
An enemy spy infiltrates Jordan's camp, so he shoots the guy on sight and steals his horse. He rides the horse out to the bridge and kills all the sentries guarding it before finally blowing it to hell.
Unfortunately, during the escape Jordan's horse falls on him and fatally wounds him. Instead of yelling different variations of the word "fuck" as loud as physically possible, Jordan calmly decides to stay there and keep conscious long enough to kill the enemy troops pursuing his friends, and while we don't actually get to see what happens, we'd be pretty surprised if anyone made it past him alive.
Originally titled My Giant Fucking Balls.
Ernest Hemingway is a guy that was so manly you grow a beard just reading his name. He was a boxer, a track runner, a football player, a water polo player and a key figure of the debate team, presumably winning most of his arguments with terrifying scowls.
Hemingway served in the first World War as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in Paris, which at the time was getting the shit bombed out of it. While there, he was seriously wounded by mortar fire but managed to carry an Italian soldier to safety, becoming the first American to win the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery.
"Either give me that medal or I'll take it from you."
He spent the next few years vacationing in Key West and the Bahamas, hunting big game in Kenya, and getting shitfaced with James Joyce. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, Hemingway traveled there and saw combat as a reporter, and in WWII he served in the Navy, tasked with destroying enemy submarines off the coast of Cuba. Later he organized his own partisan group and helped liberate Paris, proving that he could win any conflict with or without the military.
Hemingway spent the last years of his life refusing to die, surviving two consecutive plane crashes, a concussion, temporary paralysis and a massive bushfire.
At one point he was so injured that some American newspapers ran his obituary. Yes, that's right--Hemingway was so badass that he got to read his own obituary.
As for his love life, he went through four wives in 40 years, never spending more than three months as a single man (and in one case, only 17 days). We're guessing that the instant he announced that he was available, a line of women formed outside his door that wrapped around the block.
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Now check out some authors that weren't quite as badass, in 6 Writers Who Accidentally Crapped Out Masterpieces. Or find out about some soldiers that eat guys like Lord Byron for breakfast, in 5 Real Life Soldiers Who Make Rambo Look Like a Pussy.
And stop by Cracked.com's Top Picks to see how closely Brockway resembles the main character in his book (he's "Everything").